Live Like A Climaterian
A few years ago, I was introduced to Climates, a now-global social network that began in the UK. It initially serves to connect people who want to reduce their personal contributions to climate change. As we get connected, Climates offers amazing resources for people who are experimenting with and sharing carbon footprint-reducing ideas. Because it’s a global network, there are ideas and solutions of all sizes and degrees of complexity, including many that are practical for anyone anywhere.
The casual comforts of first-world living generally buffer us from drastic climate change events, though increasingly powerful storms and 100 year weather events now affect everyone all over the world. I live on a small island, and my community has been researching rising sea level models and slooowwllyy moving towards action plans as climate change starts to feel real, even to the privileged. Given the current state of world affairs, all of us are becoming aware of the vulnerability of the global supply chain. We aren’t just worried about toilet paper these days, as power sourcing and food availability are increasingly impacted. Is having unlimited gas and electricity at the flip of a switch a fading illusion? As transportation costs and availability shift, will our future be bereft of bananas? If we aren’t world leaders, what can we do? Once we’ve dusted off ours bicycle and changed our lightbulbs to LEDs, started growing as much food as possible, and made all the other simple fixes, it’s time to go several steps further.
Meatless Meals Mitigate Climate Change
Those of us in first world countries enjoy unprecedented choice and abundance, yet the uncomfortable truth is, the more abundance we enjoy and the more we spend, the greater our carbon footprint. Today, the average footprint for people in United States is over 15 metric tons. The average for those in industrial nations is about 6 metric tons. The average worldwide carbon footprint is about 5 metric tons.
Want more details? Check it out: http://calculator.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx?tab=8
Wherever we live on that sliding scale, the quickest way to shrink our carbon footprint is to make a climaterian change of diet. If all meat eaters simply switched from beef and lamb to pork and poultry, each person would shrink a ton a year off their footprint. Food production creates up to a third of all greenhouse gasses, and the bulk of that comes from raising beef. Over half of crops grown worldwide are used for meat animal feed, again mostly for beef. If you’ve seen the film made by Leonard DiCaprio about beef raising practices and global impacts, you may already have sworn off beef. If not, see what you think:
Tapering Off Meat
Meat is often considered to be the heart of any meal, so tapering meat eating is often easier on the family than going cold turkey (as it were). Choosing lower-impact meats and reducing the amount of beef and lamb each family eats is a good way to start. For the novelty-averse, quietly substitute pork and poultry in recipes where you might ordinarily use beef, such as meatloaf, burgers, and pasta sauce. Use your usual beef-based recipe but substitute a less-damaging alternative and don’t say anything about it unless somebody asks.
Serve sustainably harvested fish several times a week, perhaps starting with salmon burgers (once you put enough ketchup on the bun, the burger flavor is less obvious). Fish and chips, grilled salmon, fish tacos, and smoked trout can all nudge the family meal pattern away from meat. The next step is to make meatless meals, again not billing them as such if you tend to get pushback. Mac and cheese is an obvious starting place, served with salad and fruit to round out the meal. If you need inspiration, there are zillions of awesome cookbooks out now, including my favorite
Start With Deliciousness
Changing slowly over to an increasingly vegetarian diet can shrink your carbon footprint by half. Short of not using a car, few other changes we can make offer as much positive impact. If you already eat a weekly meatless meal, try a meatless day. If you get resistance, instead of announcing the new trend, just do it. For real change, research the tastiest, most intriguing vegetarian recipes and simply serve them without comment. (It’s fascinating to see how many people won’t notice there’s no meat in something delicious.) Small changes are easier to make than huge ones, but many small shifts can add up to large and positive results. Here’s a family favorite vegan recipe to inspire you to create your own taste sensations:
Chewy, organic yellow corn tortillas make this simple dish especially toothsome. For the most intriguing texture, fry the tortillas on both until they bubble, using just a slick of avocado oil. Add your favorite cheese and salsa to make this high-satiety meal even more satisfying. Have all ingredients prepped so you can serve (or eat) these amazing treats straight from the pan.
Avocado Cashew Tacos
8 6-inch tortillas
1-2 teaspoons avocado oil (or any high-temp oil)
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup cashew butter
1/2 cup halved and sliced red onion
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
1/2 cup stemmed cilantro
2 ripe avocados, sliced
Pinch of basil salt or kosher salt
1 organic lime, cut in 8 wedges
Brush a heavy frying pan with oil and place over medium high heat for 1 minute. Cook each tortilla quickly on both sides, then spoon a dollop of salsa on half and cashew butter on the other half. Put some raw onion and peppers on the salsa side and cilantro on the cheese side, then add avocado slices to the salsa side and sprinkle with salt. Squeeze lime juice generously over it all, fold in half and eat at once. Serves at least one.